Public relations can be a double-edged sword. When a business has something to announce, it is a vital tool, but get the timing wrong and the business can regret ever opening its mouth. Take Salesforce.com for instance.
I have discussed this ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) business before, notably for its service outages earlier this year. Last Wednesday, in a classic example of hubris ("n: insolence: arrogance, such as invites disaster"), it trumpeted its investment in new hardware and software to put an end to those problems and its achievement of 99.999% planned uptime and availability during March. Twenty-four hours later, another problem kept some North American customers from accessing Salesforce.com for some hours. Word got around, and shares dipped 3% in US trading last Thursday (and the press release quietly disappeared from the website, and a little "service disruption" red cross appeared in its service performance history).
TheStreet.com columnist Bill Snyder quotes JMP Securities analyst Patrick Walravens: "To have this kind of downtime the very next day raises concerns about Salesforce.com’s understanding of its own system issues, in our opinion. Second, the premature press release suggests to us that the sales interests at salesforce.com may have pushed for a public answer to customer concerns about reliability issues."
As a PR professional for another ASP, I can appreciate the stress Salesforce.com’s PR team might be facing ("pride comes before a fall" and all that). From time to time, BIW Technologies issues news releases related to its hosting infrastructure’s reliability and availability, and I sometimes wonder if these announcements might later prove hollow. Thankfully, I haven’t had cause to regret them yet (at least, not so far). I also sometimes have similar worries relating to the BIW website, particularly just after I have blogged about a competitor’s website being unavailable (last week, for example). Is this post tempting fate….?